Radix Aconiti


The axial root of Aconitum carmichaeli Debx., family RanuncuIaceae. Prepared by soaking in water or in saturated lime water and then boiled until the white core disappears and no numbness occurs when tasted; then sliced and dried.

Axial root short-conical, enlarged laterally and slightly curved, 2.0-7.5 cm long, 1-2 cm in diameter. Surface grey-white, with small tubercular lateral roots or scars. Prepared as transverse and longitudinal pieces, yellow-white, cross section appearing cambium ring and multi-angular, cuticle in texture. Acrid and bitter in taste, hot in nature, and toxic, attributive to liver, heart and spleen channels.

1. Alleviate pain by warming the meridian, expel wind and dampness: For arthralgia of wind-cold-dampness type, cardialgia and abdominal pain due to excess of yin-cold, hernia, headache of wind origin, migraine, hemiplegia, yin type carbuncle and trauma.
2. Anti-carcinogenic: For liver cancer.
3. For superficial anesthesia, usually used together with Venenum Bufonis, crude Rhizoma Arisaematis.

Pharmacological Action
Aconitine (C34 H47 011 N) and mesaconitine are the chief active components.
1. Analgesic, 25mg/kg subcutaneous injection in mice.
2. Anti-inflammatory.
3. Low dosage induces respiratory acceleration, cutaneous vasodilation, lowering of body termperature and salivation. High dosage leads to hyperactivity, convulsion and respiratory paralysis.
4. Aconitine may act on the vagus nerve or directly on the heart, slowing heart rate and altering the metabolism and excitability of myocardium.
5. LD50 of aconitine is 0.32mg/kg in mice. The toxic manifestations are nausea, vomiting, dizziness, arrhythmia, dyskinesia, and numbness of lips and limbs.

Administration Decoction:
3-9g (boiled for more than 1 hour).
Ampoule (2 ml containing 100mg of aconitine): 2-3 ampoules added in 5% glucose 500mI IV for drips daily, or 1 ampoule IM daily or bid.

Aconitine is a poison which can be detoxified by high temperature. Its toxicity varies with the herb variety, its habitat, process of preparing, dosage, constitution of the patient, pathological state (increased tolerance in patients with yang-deficiency, and decreased in those with yang-hyperactivity), climate (more liable to be poisoned when the temperature is over 20C), and the accompanied usage of drugs ( antagonized by Rhizoma Zingiberis and Radix Glycyrrhizae, and synergetic with Herba Ephedrae).


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